Bubble Watch: Despite Latest Loss UCLA Should Be Lock For NCAA Tournament

By David LaRose
Jayne Kamin-Oncea- USA TODAY Sports

Record: 22-8 (12-5) RPI: 37 SOS: 34

UCLA is a hard team to figure out but at the end of the day this Bruins squad is an NCAA Tournament team.

Their numbers speak for themselves and since their early-season struggles they have righted the ship and are playing with some confidence. Sure they just lost to last place Washington State on Wednesday but just before that they were on a four game winning streak including their second win over Arizona.

The Bruins’ computer numbers are improving but their record is what has them in a prime position for a secure at-large bid. UCLA is 5-4 against the RPI top 50 and a solid 11-6 against the RPI top 100. They have some bad losses but they have even better quality wins that have mostly come later in the season, which in reality matters more.

UCLA lost their shot at the Pac 12 regular season championship with the loss to the Cougars but they still have plenty to play for before Selection Sunday. There’s no chance of the Bruins falling outside the top four in the conference so they know they will have at least a first round bye next week in Las Vegas. What they do from then is up to them because at times they have looked like the best team in the conference but then again they have also looked like a mediocre, middle-of-the-pack team. However, when it comes down to it, UCLA has just as good a chance at winning the Pac 12 tournament as anyone and they should be considered one of the favorites going in.

Ben Howland’s freshman stars have progressed more than any of the other conference teams’ first year’s and he’ll have to rely on them to continue to carry the team late into March, which is scary but promising at the same time.

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